Guided ascents of Mt. Sneffels
Alpine Climbing on the Iconic 14er
Mount Sneffels is the monarch of our local area and the most well recognized peak in the Sneffels Range. It dominates the skyline as you drive down to Ouray from Montrose. Viewed from the North it is a symmetrical peak that beckons to all alpine adventurers. Each aspect holds different challenges for everyone. The climb of Mt. Sneffels is done as a day climb from Ouray with a vehicle approach to the trailhead via the Camp Bird Mine road and Yankee Boy Basin.
Named after the iconic peak in Jules Verne’s novel, Journey to the Center of the Earth, our own mountain is also a very special place that holds its own grand adventures for everyone with an adventurous spirit. The view from the summit is not to be missed, with 360 degree views you can clearly see west towards Utah’s La Sal Mountain Range, South towards the heart of the San Juan Mountains, North towards the desert of the Uncompahgre Plateau and East towards inspiring peaks such as Wetterhorn and Uncompagre!
In April, May, and early June these climbs require crampons, ice axes, and snow travel skills due to conditions in the mountains during that time of year.
I enjoyed everything about the trip up Mt. Sneffels. The scenery was amazing, it was a good challenge, and there were opportunities to learn along the way – and that’s always a plus! I will definitely be back!! – Daniel C.
Lavender Col, 3rd class
Mt Sneffels standard route from Yankee Boy Basin is a popular scramble for 14ers aspirants and local tourists alike. Despite its popularity, it is not to be underestimted. There is plenty of hands on movement and a slip in the wrong place could have serious consequences. We guide lots of folks up this classic climb every summer, and everyone is very grateful for the rope, helmet, and intimate knowledge of the route that our guides provide.
SW Ridge, 4th/Easy 5th class
The SW ridge of Mt. Sneffels is a super high quality ridge climb soaring up above Blue Lakes Pass. It involves some tricky routefinding and low 5th class moves. Earlier in the season the direct start to the SW ridge is a beautiful snow couloir leading directly to the rock crux and avoiding large amounts of circuitous talus navigation. Once on the ridge itself, exposure and grand views dominate every direction. Fun scrambling on or near the crest leads dramatically to the summit. This is one of the greatest routes in the San Juans and a perfect introduction to more challenging mountaineering.
North Buttress and Snake Couloir Routes Class 5.6, 60 degree snow and ice.
The North side of Mt Sneffels is a very different place than the well traveled South side. Poised majestically over Blaine Basin, The North Face is well guarded from any easy ascent. The most popular route on the North side is the Snake or “Dogleg” Couloir, thus named for its dramatic left turn around 13,000ft. The snake is over 2000ft of steep snow and ice with a challenging rock climbing finish directly onto the summit block. Scramblers on the summit are often surprised when we come popping up out of the depths of the North onto the top!
Mt. Sneffels Equipment List
- Backpack: Internal frame, 30-40 liter day pack, Guides’ pick: Osprey
- Small thermos: Optional, but nice to have
- Water bottles: 2 liters combined capacity; bottles or bladder. Guides’ pick: Nalgene or Osprey
Clothing and Personal Equipment
- Hiking boots: Sturdy, waterproof, comfortable boots. Please contact us with questions or further recommendations.
- Socks: medium weight wool or synthetic blend socks.
- Base layers: Synthetic t-shirt and synthetic underwear
- Soft shell pants: warm enough for cool mornings and nights, yet light enough for warm days. Guides’ pick: OR Ferrosi
- Soft shell jacket: light weight. Guides’ pick: OR Ferrosi
- Insulated vest and/or jacket: down or synthetic. Guides’ pick: OR Transcendent
- Hard shell jacket: waterproof and breathable, no insulation. Guides’ Pick: OR Helium
- Hats: one with brim, one for warmth
- Sunscreen and lip balm: water/sweat-proof
- Headlamp: with extra batteries. Guides’ pick: Black Diamond Spot
- Toiletries: Toilet paper, baggie for used TP, toothbrush/paste, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.
- Personal first-aid kit: for your personal meds/needs; guide will have a large one as well
- Stuff sacks: for convenient packing
- Lunch food: Everything you eat between breakfast and dinner. May include: bagels, dried meats, cheese, trail mix, candy bars, peanut butter, etc…
- Locking carabiner: Pear shaped, wide mouth.
- Boots: Hiking boots, or alpine boots – many options. No tennis shoes.
- Crampons: General mountaineering crampons (for May/June trips only – conditions dependent)
- Mountaineering Axe: 60 – 70 cm mountain axe (for May/June trips only – conditions dependent)
Do you like hiking? Is your family relatively fit? Are you excited to try new things? This would be awesome for you!
+Follow Up Programs
We very much enjoyed our time in Ouray! The private 2-day climbing program was impressive. Our guide, Mark, was/is an excellent teacher. He took the time to build the skills for each of us, listened to the concerns and course corrected to ensure we were achieving what we wanted to achieve. Basically, Mark rocks! We look forward to coming back. – J. Bowers, 2011 Private Program
Ouray, Colorado: Getting Here
Ouray is located in the SW corner of Colorado, approximately 30 minutes south of Montrose. Known as “The Switzerland of America”, the town of Ouray is a vibrant outdoor oriented community. All local businesses are very friendly to the ice climbers who flock each winter to climb in the Ouray Ice Park and surrounding areas.
Flights: The best option for flying to the area is to fly into Montrose, CO. Many airline options exist, and most connections originate from Denver, CO. It is also possible to fly into Durango, CO, Telluride, CO, or Albuquerque, NM. It may be necessary to rent a car and drive to Ouray if you’d like to fly into one of either of these airports.
Driving: Below are some approximate driving times if you’d like to drive to Ouray. If you plan on renting a car, please consider the winter weather when selecting your vehicle and at a minimum choose something that offers either front wheel or all-wheel drive.
- Montrose, CO: 45 mins
- Durango, CO: 2 hours
- Denver, CO: 6 hours
- Albuquerque, NM: 4.5 hours
- Salt Lake City, UT: 6 hours
Hotels: Ouray has a number of great hotels, suites, and vacation rentals for you to stay in while you’re in the area. Give our office a call at 800-642-5389 if you have any questions about what would suite you best for this trip!
- Box Canyon Lodge
- Ouray Chalet
- San Juan Chalet
- Guiding and instruction with an AMGA Certified/Trained Guide
- All climbing gear (harness, helmet, ropes, etc.)
- Round-trip transportation to and from climbing area and our office
- Not Included:
- 5% land use surcharge
- Guide gratuity
- Lunch food or snacks
- Personal hiking/climbing clothing
- Registration and Cancellation:
- Advance Registration is required for this program. You have the option to either call our office and register via phone, fill out our pdf Registration Form and send it in via fax or email, or utilize our secure Online Reservation System. All participants must read and sign an Assumption of Risks/Liability Waiver and agree to our Reservations and Cancellations Policies.